On this day, 365 days ago, my son was born. Kasey placed him on my chest and there was a shift from my head to my soul, a quiet rumble that beckoned me to listen, beckoned me to change and become someone outside of who I was before.
I spent so much time googling, asking, researching, and listening to experts on how to get a baby in my arms that I didn’t really know what to expect once he was there. So much of my life these last 365 days, and I suspect for every day forward, is a practice in deep, deep humility, and ride-or-die confidence. The humility that is forced upon you when you’re the one in charge of the 8 pound human who doesn’t know how to stop crying and you look for your mom and realize that you’re it now. And then, regardless of if I knew I had it, came the ride-or-die confidence: the game-time decision to put the binkie in (or out), to swaddle (or not swaddle), to cuddle (or cry it out), to feed (or feed more).
But I’m learning the rhythms of not ever knowing what I’m doing but also knowing deep in my heart what’s best for my son. It’s a maddening ebb and flow. Sometimes I think I get it, and other times I feel like there’s no way I can keep doing this for 18 years without making an irrevocable mistake. But, miraculously, the three of us- and our village of people who step in to help- are figuring it out. We make lots of mistakes and are learning to be gracious and forgiving in ways that I didn’t know we needed so badly. In fact, that’s been a running theme in these last 365 days.
I’ve found this amazing secret in Will. Maybe it’s because we hang out all night every night, but whatever the case may be, it’s effective. Here’s the secret: Will is our force-multiplier. In one fell swoop, he’s caused me to think less of myself, caused me to be more understanding of Kasey, caused me to think twice about assigning that research paper because if I won’t have time to teach it well, it’s not worth my students’ time. Oh, sure, we still stress about money and get boiling mad at our dogs for getting in the way, but the second I look at my son throw his head back in laughter, or sway his feet in his high chair, my shoulders unclench and I remember that there is a bigger picture at play.
There is so much more to be said, more stories to be told, but the reality is I have a few essays to grade before I shower and go to sleep until Will and I hang out at 2, so I’ll end with this little story.
One evening a few weeks ago I sat on our guest bed, footie pajamas in hand, watching Will play. He was doing his usual routine of wriggling out of arms to jump on the bed and toss pillows around. Flopping on the bed in his diaper and bottom-tooth grin, I watched him become overwhelmed with excitement at climbing on the pillows, reaching for the window. He’d turn around every few seconds to check to see if I was watching him.
It was a totally normal moment of me hanging out with my son when it hit me: This is why it hurt so bad. The years of hoping, begging, trying, trying, trying, failing, failing, failing hurt so much because this love means so much. In the same way the pain of wanting to be a mother permeated every part of my being, the joy of Will’s presence in my life permeates who I am and who I’m becoming.
I’ve spent the last 365 days feeling gratitude like I’ve never experienced and I hope it never stops. I hope this well within me that has a little more hope, a little more joy, and a lot more love, never stops brimming with gratitude.
Will, I am still so, so glad you’re here.